The pandemic has favoured digital business models, but how can you transition to online sales when you run an in-person business? How can you move from one stream of income to multiple streams? Guy Windsor has lots of ideas for your author business in this fascinating interview.
In the intro, fear-based decision making [Kris Rusch]; Amazon and MGM; Product focused vs Process focused [Dean Wesley Smith]; Royalties on second-hand print books [Guardian]. Plus, working titles, getting out of the house, and my cycling trip in the Cotswolds.
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Guy Windsor is a consulting swordsman, teacher, and author specializing in Medieval and Renaissance Italian swordsmanship. He runs Sword School and is the host of The Sword Guy Podcast.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- How Guy transitioned to multiple sources of income that have seen him though the pandemic
- The challenges of print books and using QR codes to link to videos
- Lessons learned from creating online courses
- Creating a deck of sword fighting cards as an alternative teaching tool
- Guy’s post on the key principles of crowdfunding
- On the intersection of podcasts and audiobook sales
Transcript of interview with Guy Windsor
Joanna: Guy Windsor is a consulting swordsman, teacher, and author specializing in Medieval and Renaissance Italian swordsmanship. He runs sword school and is the host of ‘The Sword Guy Podcast.' Welcome back to the show, Guy.
Guy: Nice to see you, Joanna. Thanks for having me.
Joanna: It's great to have you back. Now, for everyone listening, you were on the show back in episode 229 when we talked about sword fighting and writing and martial arts. So I'm sorry, everyone, we're not talking about how to do sword fighting today.
And people in their heads, they might picture you standing there in some sort of renascence Italian clothing with your sword.
Tell us a bit more about what you do because it is pretty cool.
Guy: That's not such a bad picture to have. Basically what I do is I find historical sources, which explain how sword fighting works in that particular period from that particular master's point of view. And when necessary, transcribe them and translate them and figure out how to train the actions that they represent.
That gives me a whole bunch of historical sword fighting techniques, which are then organized into a syllabus so that my students can learn it the way you learn any other skill.
So I teach historical martial arts because it's historical, otherwise, it comes from historical research. And it's martial arts because it's not just sword fighting, it's also wrestling and kicking and throwing people on the floor and that kind of stuff. All good, healthy fun.
Joanna: Indeed. But you do actually have swords and you can actually fight with them.
Guy: Oh, yes. Swords are the main thing. For my people, the sword people, the sword is the shiny hook that brings them into the art. And it's this totemic object that is imbued with all sorts of cultural and spiritual and practical meanings.
You can tell sometimes we do events at fairs or whatever, and some people walking by, they see a table full of swords, their eyes go wide, they are magnetically attracted to them. And when they pick one up, you can see just this switch go on in their head.
When that happens, you know they're one of us. For most of the human population, that doesn't happen. That's fine. They have other things where some people, I'm told, like football. I don't understand why but it's not up to me to understand.
The sword people are my people and so I've always been into martial arts, but the sword is the special thing.
Joanna: I like the shiny hook. And I think this is a really good place to start. And we're going to be talking a lot about your business model today. But this idea of being clear on your niche is so important. And I feel like a lot of people get it wrong.
What you said there is if people pick up a sword and their eyes light up or they find you online with some kind of sword keywords, then you've got them.
Guy: Yeah, absolutely. For example, one woman in her 60s living in America and she was looking up sword fighting in books or something like that. And she came across my Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists book, which has a foreword by Neal Stephenson, who is her favorite author.
And she was like, ‘Oh, my. I've got to get that.' And from that, she found out that you can actually train swords for real. ‘Actually, really, really, really? Can you really do that? Oh, my god.'
She's a woman in her 60s. So of course she contacted me and started doing the solo training stuff at home that you can do in a pandemic. And it was latent within her, her whole life. She just didn't know it was possible.
Joanna: I love that.
Guy: Absolutely. It's not for everyone but that's okay. It's not like non-sword people are…well, you're not really a sword person.
Joanna: No, I'm not. But I think probably a lot of people listening who write books that are interested in writing fight scenes or sword scenes, that's what we talked about last time.
Let's get into your business because this is why we're talking really today is that obviously, we're still in a pandemic. And you have what is essentially a physical skill doing stuff with swords, physical objects, physical martial arts. So we're going to talk about your business model.
You mentioned one of your books there. Outline what are the various streams of income that you have as part of your business?
What are your multiple streams of income?
Guy: Okay, this is attached to the other question because it goes to business structure.
In the beginning, I showed up and I taught classes in person. I rented a space and people came, and sometimes I traveled and I taught classes in person. And that was my only income.
Then my first book came out in 2004, it sold okay but it didn't make me any money but it made me a reputation. And I got to travel a bit, but still. Then my second book came out in 2006. Again, it was a great reputation builder but didn't actually make any money.
Then in 2007, I bought a space and rented it out to my students so that there was an additional stream of income there. I'm still teaching regularly, four nights a week, weekends traveling, that kind of stuff.
In 2007, 2008, I had income from showing up and teaching and income from renting out the space. And of course, both of those disappeared in 2020. My students renting my space in Helsinki, I contacted him and said, ‘Look, you know, you guys are closed. You can't possibly pay rent until you're open again.' And so we dropped the rent down to just cover the running cost of the building.
So both those streams of income effectively disappeared in 2020.
But by that point, by 2012, 2013, I was self-publishing my books and making actual income from it.
Literally the moment I started self-publishing as opposed to going through publishers, they actually started making money. The turning point, I guess, was December 2015 where it had been like a trickle of income, steady but not nothing like major.
December 2015 I looked at my report from Lightning Source because this is the paperbacks and hardbacks I published through Lightning Source because IngramSpark didn't even exist yet, and I looked at it and I realized that just the income from the sales of paperbacks and hardbacks that month was actually enough to cover all costs, income and expenses, and have a wife and children and mortgage and all that was covered by that one payment.
‘Oh, I need to take this really seriously,' which is, of course, when I got into your stuff because I started looking into how to take the self-publishing thing more seriously. I came across your podcast and I've got your book, How to Market a Book, which really, really helped me take this book marketing thing more seriously.
And then in 2016, again, having listened to one of your podcast episodes, I started creating online courses, which again, even putting them together wasn't very difficult. Selling them was harder because I figured out after the first one launched, and it made a bit of money on launch, and then nothing. And then when I launched the second one, I was like, ‘I've got to do this properly.'
Again, did some research and actually did a proper six email launch sequence thing with a time-limited discount and everything. And it was absolutely staggering the difference it made. So I have these online courses, which I'm now launching properly. And I'm producing books, self-publishing them of course.
So basically since 2016, I haven't been dependent on showing up and teaching in person. We moved to the U.K. in 2016 and I knew that to do that I would have to become independent of that revenue, the income you get from showing up in person.
I still teach in seminars in Australia and America and places. And that was a significant income stream but it wasn't a vital one. And I'm hoping that that will come back. Basically as soon as I can get back on a plane, I am back to America, and back to Australia, and back to Germany, and back to Finland, and all these places where I have branches.
But thanks to the online courses and the books, I'm not actually dependent on showing up on any given day, which is just a massive, massive change.
Most recently, I also have a card game, Audatia, which came out six years ago. I started a Patreon recently. I'm not really pushing it, I'm just interested to see how it works as a model. I have some students who I mentor one on one, which is actually me showing up in person and then having like an hour of my time where we talk about their publishing, or their book they're working on, or their online courses or whatever.
So not regular income but I intermittently crowdfund certain projects, which helps with all sorts of things. I've actually got a blog post about this, which goes into the nitty-gritty down to the very last cent of how much money you make per book crowdfunding it rather than publishing it normally. And basically, people are willing to spend a lot more money on a crowdfunding campaign than they are in a bookshop.
Joanna: We might come back to that. So you've got a lot of different income sources.
Guy: I have a lot of stuff going on. Yes. Well, you know, I learned from the best.
Joanna: It's funny because I feel like I have done a lot of things. And then over time, in the last few years, I've been cutting them out. So we're going to come back to managing your time. But I did want to ask about books and workbooks, which, again, you teach a physical skill. And a lot of the people listening, I know we've had them. Joseph, who does guitar books, but again, that's reading music.
How are you using books and workbooks to teach a physical skill and any tips for people? Because I imagine you have to incorporate a lot of images.
Guy: Most of my books so far have used a lot of images. But when I started the whole workbook idea, I thought about what I would actually want if I was learning martial arts from a book.
Martial arts are all about movement. And, yes, you can get a long way with books. And, of course, the martial arts I teach are based on my research into books. We have no video from the Middle Ages, unfortunately. But getting the movement into the student's head via the page is super hard. And obviously, you can't embed a video in a printed book.
But then I came to the realization that absolutely everyone, almost everyone, I have some very Luddite students too, but almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket that will play video easily.
So what I did was instead of having for this series of rapier workbooks, and I have a series of long sword workbooks coming out soon, instead of having images of like this is the beginning, this is the middle, this is the end, I would have the same, kind of, textual description and perhaps a picture, but I shot video of the action and then posted that clip online on my Vimeo account, linked to it through a Pretty Link.
So a link redirect that goes through my website. So if I need to change the video, I don't have to change the Pretty Link. And then have a QR code of that link printed on the page so that once you've read through the exercise, you take out your phone, point it at the page, it takes you straight to the video. And of course, I can track that link. So I know the people are doing it, which helps.
And that way, it's the closest we can get to actually embedding video onto a physical page. Because, of course, for workbooks, what I really wanted was something that could lay flat and that students could write on a decent pen.
I'm a fountain pen nerd. And the notion of having paper that you just write on it and the ink leaks through the other side, that's just…no, can't be doing that. So I did an awful lot of fiddling about finding various printers.
I'm very much in favor of passive income. I don't ever want to have to pack and ship a book.
There are exceptions, but generally speaking, I don't want to be dependent at any point on that. But I found that you can't really get that quality of paper and that quality of printing in a lay-flat format that is printed through, for example, Ingram. They don't do that.
Joanna: No, laying flat is very, very difficult in general. So where did you do that?
Guy: Well, what I did was I bit the bullet and I did a print run at bookprinting.co.uk, which was fine quality. And then I have a colleague who is in the business of packing and shipping books. I got him to stock those books for me. And I sold the PDFs that you can print at home so you can print them and have them comb bound or spiral bound at home.
And then my assistant actually found a company in the States called Vivante that they're not really set up for it in the way that you'd think like, when you sell books through them, they will print them and distribute them pretty much the same way Ingram does.
But if you want to get paid, you have to email them in the first week of the month and tell him that you'd like to get paid and how much of the money in your account you would like and then they'll send it to you.
So it's not really set up for what I wanted to do but they will actually do print on demand, spiral-bound, reasonable paper quality.
Actually, this actually brought up a really interesting lesson. I really care about paper quality. I really care about my lovely antique Parker Vacumatic and the ink that I'm using, and there's a tactile sensation to writing with a really good pen. I could geek out about that for ages.
But the thing is the books aren't actually for me. I don't need a beginner's guide to rapier. I wrote the beginner's guide to rapier. So it occurred to me that, really, most people don't actually care that much.
I was letting my perfect be the enemy of their good.
I still have Vivante going. So you can still get the spiral-bound ones. I've stopped printing at book printing. And I've put them through Ingram so that they come out perfect bound, like an ordinary paperback, but they're like A4 size. So they're quite big. And you can open them almost flat.
Joanna: You crack the spine a bit. That's how I do mine as well. I just do them at Ingram.
Guy: And there's nothing stopping you taking into a local book printers who will come bind them for you. You can do that. You can just cut the spine off and combine them. But also, and literally just this week, I've bitten another bullet. And also I'm producing those as e-books, which is not my idea of a workbook but some people want their workbooks on their Kindle. And they should be allowed that. They should have that.
Joanna: I need to do that. I'm glad you said that because I've had that on my list for ages. And every time I look at it I go, ‘Oh, well, why would anyone do that?' And you're like the third person who's mentioned this, which is kind of crazy.
And also, the other thing is like my husband has a stylus on an iPad. So you can actually now write on these things, anyway.
I want to come back on a couple of things. You said you use the QR code. So for people listening who might not understand you, you hold up your phone's camera and it points out the QR code, which is a little square shape. But I think we've been using this a lot more in the pandemic like restaurants and things have been doing this. How did you create the QR codes? What app did you use or site or whatever?
Guy: There's a million sites online that will do it for free. What you do is you paste the link into a field and it generates a QR code and you just download it as a JPEG or TIFF file.
Joanna: Recommend the site you use because I know there are so many. A lot of them do a lot of ads and stuff.
Guy: Honestly, I don't remember.
Joanna: Okay. You just use a basic one.
Guy: Yeah. Because, again, I'm only producing maybe in my 4 rapier workbooks, there's probably about 100 or so of them. And honestly, what I did is I emailed a list of links to my VA and asked her to produce the QR codes please because she's very good at that kind of thing.
Joanna: That's fantastic. I love that you did those little videos as well and I think we can now incorporate QR codes a lot more. I've been very reticent about it and I've used as, you mentioned, Pretty Links. I use Pretty Links to just create something easy, but they still have to then type it in from print. So QR codes are perfect and this is something I want to do as well in the future.
You briefly mentioned that you're doing online courses and obviously you're incorporating videos there.
Any particular lessons learned from creating videos that might help people?
Guy: My view is I'm not a videographer, and I'm not teaching videography. So the videography doesn't actually matter so much. What matters is a clear picture and clear explanation. So the information that they're looking for needs to be clear.
So the sample is usually quite good. What I do for sound quality is I have a lovely mic, which I plug into my phone, and I record it like you would record dictation. And then I take that locally recorded audio and I stitch it onto the video file.
Because the noises that really matter are the speech that you're making, the verbal instruction. And of course, the mic will also pick up the clang of steel, which is quite important for sword people.
Joanna: Oh, lovely. Sounds great.
Guy: The sound quality needs to be good enough. It doesn't have to be perfect. The video quality needs to be good enough. It doesn't have to be perfect. Unless you're teaching videography or if you're teaching like audio engineering, your sound quality must be immaculate.
But if you're teaching swordsmanship, then they're not expecting me to do amazing visuals and amazing audio stuff. It can just be teaching a class. I just imagined that I had my regular class with me and I had my training partner there.
And whoever was behind the camera, if we even have somebody behind the camera, would be like the audience or the members of the class. And I'll just demonstrate the way I demonstrate and explain the way I explain. And it works just fine.
There's all sorts of things you can do to make it harder for yourself. My first few courses, I organized transcription of all the videos. And I didn't get round to it for my number three or four. And not a single person complained or asked for it.
I thought if one of the students that emails me and says, ‘Guy, on the dagger course you've got these transcriptions, which I find really helpful, but they're not there on the rapier course. Would you provide them?' Then, yeah.
Now that I've got my business working better and there's a lot more money coming through, I would just fire off a few emails and get somebody to do it and it will be done. It doesn't have to be this big bells and whistles, perfect production straight out of the gate.
Joanna: That's another really good point. And it's funny because it mirrors your book situation, your workbooks, and that you went hard with the over-quality thing.
Joanna: And then you've taken a step back as you've realized that that's just not necessary.
The first course I built back in 2008, 2009, which was my original Author 2.0 course, was the biggest course I ever made and it sold the fewest number of copies. It was the mega, mega course. Now I'll do a course for authors for like $99 that's just a couple of hours and that will do better than the original mega course. That's a great lesson learned, too.
I also want to ask you about this card game. I looked at your card game, it looks amazing. It fits really well with the sword idea. But I imagine that the audience is not actually the same. So tell us about the card game.
Why create a card game and how did that happen and any lessons on that?
Guy: I have a fundamental principle, which I follow whenever I'm making any of these sorts of decisions. And that is does this serve the art? My job is to serve the art of arms, and the people who care about the art of arms.
I don't do complicated business analysis of is this going to make money. I don't actually care. As long as I have enough money coming in to pay for the things I want to do, if it serves the art, I will get it done.
What happened was we've had a rapier class and one of my students called Rami Laaksonen and I were chatting after class about how difficult it is for many people to remember the Italian terms for the techniques and actions that we do. At the same time, they have no problem knowing the names of like 500 different footballers or 2 million Pokemon cards or whatever.
Joanna: I think you have a chip about football. Me too.
Guy: Right. I was forced to play it at school a bit. And why would anybody want to run around after a bag, I do not know. Anyway.
So then we thought, ‘Well, hang on, why don't we have flashcards with the names of these techniques and things on that we can do?'
In the armed forces, generally in the Second World War, in the British Armed Forces, they had playing cards with like the silhouettes of ships on them so that people could recognize German or Japanese or American or British ships, and likewise with aircraft.
And these days in Afghanistan and in Iraq, American and British soldiers have packs of cards with the top 52 most wanted Taliban people they're after. So they will recognize the face because, ‘Oh, that bloke over there, he looks just like the nine of diamonds'. It works.
So they're like, ‘Why don't we make a poker deck with sword stuff on? And then we can play cards and do a kind of pick up?' Then Rami was like, ‘Why don't we make a card game that actually is a sword fight.'
And another student walking past was like, ‘I'd buy that.' So we thought, ‘Huh, okay.' It occurred to me that this hits several interesting instructional points.
Firstly, different people learn differently. Some people learn great from video, some people learn great from books, some people really need to see things in person. This is just another way of getting the information that my students want to learn conveniently into their heads. So it serves the art. It's a great idea.
Secondly, it's also an opportunity to analyze how Fiore's long sword material, which Fiore dei Liberi was a 14th-century Italian combat master who wrote a fantastic book called ‘Il Fior di Battaglia,' ‘The Flower of Battle.'
I absolutely absorbed the technical and tactical content of that book for the last 25 years. What this card game does is it reproduces the actual process of a sword fight as it is represented by Fiore in his book. All the terminology comes from the book.
There are specific plays like named actions, for example, the breaking of the thrust, which can occur in gameplay. And most critically, every legal game, in other words, every game that follows the rules can be reproduced, sword in hand, without any logic problems.
Joanna: Ooh, clever.
Guy: It's super hard. And of course, I don't know anything about game design. And I can't draw either. So Rami and I were like, ‘If we're going to do this, we're going to need a game designer and we're going to need an artist.' So we're going to need money.
Rami was studying at the Haaga-Helia School of Business, which is a business school in Helsinki. And they have grants for business development things. So he went and successfully applied for a €5,000 grant, which we then had the money to hire a game designer and an artist to do the game design, we got the main structure of the game clearly in place.
Fundamentally, it was playable. You could print out the cards on ordinary paper, and no pictures or anything, but you could actually play the game.
We got the artist to do four or five like sample cards. And that's how much money we had. And then we took the working game and the sample art to Indiegogo. And it was my fourth crowdfunding campaign. I had some experience in crowdfunding already. And we needed to finance the game.
The best way to finance it was obviously to get people to buy it. So we launched this crowdfunding campaign and it did really well. We raised about €57,000, I think, and we needed €20,000 to get the initial game.
So that allowed us to do not just the first two decks because each deck is a character and so you need two decks to play so two characters fight each other. We didn't just get the first two decks, we got four decks. And we got also two expansion packs, one of which adds armored combat to the game.
Fiore is an Italian. and his system is generally referred to as medieval Italian combat. But at the same period, there was stuff happening in Germany and there is a very well-known, amongst sword geeks, German medieval combat system. And so one of our decks plays that system, the German system, because our patron, I can get into that in a minute if you like, wanted that.
We also have the expansion packs so that any of the decks can add the techniques and terminology of this German longsword system to their existing game. It ended up taking much more of my life than I expected. Because, again, six decks is an awful lot more work than two.
Joanna: For people who want to do crowdfunding for either a game or a book or a graphic novel, I think, again, is another when you need artists, you need a lot more money upfront.
Any things that you've learned from crowdfunding, either the game or anything else that you're like, ‘That's important for crowdfunding?'
Guy: There's a lot to be said about crowdfunding because it is its own separate thing. And plenty of people with massive mailing lists and massive fame and what have you can completely screw up a crowdfunding campaign and it fails miserably.
Being famous by itself is not enough. There's a culture to it. On the one hand, you have to be completely transparent about what's going on so that people trust you. You have to absolutely deliver on all of your promises. You have to communicate like a maniac.
And you have to deliver obvious value because, in the end, they are buying something. But in some cases, what they're buying is the same good feeling you get when you get a bunch of money to go save the elephants.
But in most cases, they're actually buying a product. So they have to have some reason to believe that the product they're buying, they will actually get and it will actually be worth it. And so you have to communicate that authority.
Actually, I've written up a blog post about it. I can stick it in it there if you like.
Joanna: We'll link that in the show notes. [Check out Guy's links and resources here.]
I think a card game is a great example of something where you need the funding and investing in art and, as you say, there's a whole ecosystem for that. And all we can do today is really touch on all of the things you're doing.
But in that, I also wanted to ask you about audio because you have audiobooks, some are self-narrated, you have a podcast, and of course swords, again, and fighting is visual and there's no pictures in audio.
How does audio play a part in your business?
Guy: Again, it all boils down to does it serve the art or not? I knew I wanted an audiobook for a version of my theory and practice book because my book Theory and Practice of Historic Martial Arts is mostly describing how things can be done rather than giving you specific exercises. So it's not a how-to book. It's more like a how to think about it book.
It actually works pretty well as an audiobook. And again, some people just learn better if they have it in audio. They don't want video. They don't want to sit and read it. They want an audiobook and everybody learns differently.
This lets people who prefer audiobooks to have at least those elements of the art that work in audio in audio.
My podcast, ‘The Sword Guy,' it was a lockdown project. I got this idea in May last year I think. One of the problems we're working on, or that I'm working on, is historical martial arts generally was mostly founded in the '90s and mostly by middle-class white blokes who are now middle-aged middle-class white blokes.
And so it, sort of, naturally attracts middle-aged middle-class white blokes. And yet there are all sorts of other people, women, for example, ooh, they can…of course they bloody can.
In my card game, one of those four character decks is a woman based on Lady Agnes Hotot who…I could go into the story but I think we're running low on time. Digression avoided.
So what I thought I'd do is rather than just have a podcast where I just interview the usual suspects, I would, for a start, half of my guests are women. Slightly over half of my guests are women. That's deliberate. Because women do do this.
My goal is by the time this has been running for nearly a year now where we've had guests from Asia and South America and North America and Europe and Australia, and obviously, some places are more represented than others, but there is somebody from pretty much everywhere. We have people of all races, all sexual identities, all backgrounds and whatever.
Joanna: Probably not all of them, but a great variation.
Guy: Well, maybe not all of them. A great variation. Okay. All is the goal.
Basically, my goal is no matter who you are or where you're from, if you have an interest in swords, you can come to my podcast and you can find somebody like you being interviewed by me.
We do have a couple of token middle-aged white guys there too because they're a demographic and it helps getting some like the really well-known people in my field.
Joanna: Didn't you have Steven Pressfield on as well?
Guy: I'm interviewing him next week.
Joanna: Oh, there we go. By the time this goes out he might be on your show.
Guy: By the time this goes out I'll have Steven Pressfield on. Yeah, absolutely. Again, it was a tactic in the service of a larger goal but it turned out to be really fun.
Joanna: So, again, this was in the service of the art.
There is no primary monetization except for the audiobooks, which obviously do make some money.
Guy: I wish they did. So far that audiobook is actually still in the red. But again, because I have enough income coming in from different places, if a specific tactic doesn't necessarily make money, it doesn't matter. If it serves the art, I can still afford to do it.
Joanna: I think with podcasting, one of my big tips of podcasting, my Books and Travel podcast is about two years old now and I didn't even consider monetization. I'm not considering it until year three to five because I know how long it takes to build a voice brand.
I think you'll find that there will be opportunities in the future and also it will help sell audiobooks.
Guy: Absolutely. And I'm not expecting anything, really, from it until it's passed to, say, episode 100. Because like, I think 100 episodes is a good base to work from.
Joanna: It means you're taking it seriously, basically.
Guy: Sure. Then how I started it, it was, ‘Okay, I won't launch it until I have six episodes recorded and then we'll see what that's like and how it goes.' I copied most of this DNA from your podcast because that's the one I listen to the most. So I didn't even think really much about format and whatever.
It was all a bit slapdash in the beginning. But before I published the first episode, I had 10 in the bag because people will talk to you if you've got a podcast. It's amazing. Some people have said no but most people don't, which is extraordinary.
It gives you a pretext for getting in touch with interesting people who you would like to talk to anyway. So that's saying, ‘Would you like to talk to me for an hour or so about swords and stuff?' They might be a bit, sort of, perplexed.
But if you say, ‘I've got a podcast, would you like to talk to me for an hour or so that swords and stuff for my podcast?' They're like, ‘Oh, yeah, sure. That's a great idea.'
Joanna: Yeah. It is a magic formula.
Guy: It's extraordinary. It is. Absolutely. But also, combining crowdfunding and audiobooks. By the time this goes out, the crowdfunding campaign will be long over. But not all of our historical sources are very picture heavy.
One of them, which is very important, called ‘Paradoxes of Defense' by George Silver, published in 1599, has like two images in the whole book, neither of which are critical for understanding anything. So I thought that would be a perfect candidate for another audiobook.
I got an actor, a professional actor to read it into the mic and narrate and do the audio thing that way. And then I thought, well, hang on. In the 16th century, people did speak differently. And we do have historical researchers and historical linguists who are reconstructing how English was spoken in the time of Shakespeare, and 1599 is like peak Shakespeare.
I contacted, literally, the top Shakespearean original pronunciation actor in the world, a guy called Ben Crystal, and asked him if he would do an original pronunciation read of ‘Paradoxes of Defense.'
So I'm making these two audiobooks, one in modern pronunciation, one in original pronunciation. And, of course, it's costing me a fortune because actors are expensive. At least good actors cost a lot of money. That's a better way to put it.
And so I thought, you know what? I don't have a good in into the Shakespeare crowd or into the Tudor theater crowd or into the historical linguistics crowd. So I need a way of marketing this book that is deeply shareable so you can make these cross-community connections.
And I thought, well, crowdfunding is the obvious way to do it. I'm crowdfunding and hopefully, it's launching next week. It allows me to cross niches because this project is of obvious interest to Tudor theater people. But I don't know any Tudor theater people.
Now I know Ben Crystal because he's working for me. So, again, another thing to think about crowdfunding is like why are you crowdfunding it? What is crowdfunding going to get you? Because crowdfunding is time-consuming, it's stressful, and it's expensive.
I will lose about 15%, more than that, 18% of all the money I raise to Indiegogo's cut, PayPal's transfer fees. Also, Indiegogo started holding back 5% of your fees to deal with refunds and stuff. I think you get it eventually but it's brutal. It's a horrible way to really sell your product unless the crowdfunding campaign itself is critically useful in some way.
Joanna: That's a good way to think about it. And I'm going to link to your article on crowdfunding in the short notes so people can find that. But we're out of time.
Where can people find you and everything you do online?
Guy: I'm in the process of rebuilding my swordschool.com. Best URL ever, swordschool.com website. And by the time this goes live, then that should be a really good place to go to find out all sorts of other things if you're into swords.
But if you're less into swords and more into the stuff that we've talked about, I've put together a page on my website of resources for your people, which is at guywindsor.net/joanna.
It will have things like links to crowdfunding stuff. And I'll take, for example, photographs of the insides. Most of your listeners I don't think particularly want to go and buy a rapier beginners workbook because they don't want to learn rapier.
Joanna: I think that's true.
Guy: Right. Exactly. But they might be interested to see what it looks like on the inside. So I'll take photographs and stick that on this page so that you can go and see what the QR code looks like in the link.
Joanna: Oh, thank you so much. That'd be very useful. So, say that URL again?
Guy: It's guywindsor.net/joanna.
Joanna: Tell people where they can find your sword podcast, too.
Guy: Oh, yeah, at guywindsor.net there's a link to the podcast or you can just go guywindsor.net/podcast. That will find it.
Joanna: Or open your podcast app right now and put in ‘The Sword Guy'.
Guy: Yes, yes, Even better, Joanna. Yes. Thank you.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thank you so much for your time, Guy. That was great.
Guy: Thanks for having me, Joanna. It's been lovely to see you.